"They named me Robin Hood". Jeff
I am sometimes asked why I decided to study three-yearolds. The questions usually comes from someone who thinks three-year-olds are already over the hill. I might have worked with younger children except for two things. First, I wanted their speech to be sufficiently mature that we could transcribe it in ordinary orthography, without resorting to phonetic symbols. Second, I wanted to avoid changing diapers. When I asked my knowledgeable friends how old children are before they become both intelligible and continent, the answer was three years. That settled it for me.
For Elsa Bartlett, however, that was only the beginning. Elsa had to find the children, which meant finding their parents. The search began with the Rockefeller community, and all but two were found there. One of our criteria was that the children would be able to attend from October 1973 through April 1974, and Rockefeller families could not only guarantee that period of time, but could easily arrange to deliver and collect their children. Via a communication net mysterious to me, Elsa scheduled a series of interviews with parents and their children and eventually selected eight children -- four boys and four girls -- between the ages of two years eight months and three years (between 2;8 and 3;0 in the terse but convenient notation of developmental psychologists).
Since we were interested in the children's language, it was important that they should be monolingual speakers of English and both talkative and intelligible. Elsa went
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Publication information: Book title: Spontaneous Apprentices:Children and Language. Contributors: George A. Miller - Author. Publisher: Seabury Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1977. Page number: 46.
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